According to US commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno, the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) faction has lost virtually its entire leadership, with some 34 out of 42 leaders either killed or captured in the past three months.
“We got inside of AQI. We picked up several of their leaders that did the financing, that did planning, that did recruiting,” Odierno said, adding it would be difficult for the group to reconstitute itself.
Oddly enough, the upbeat assessment comes at a time when violence has continues to rise in Iraq, and as AQI was taking this apparent beating the civilian death toll rose three consecutive months.
Indeed, it was shortly after the most high profile AQI killings that the deadliest attack of the year occurred, a series of bombings that killed at least 154 Iraqis, and were blamed on AQI.
The US has predicted several times over the past several years that the al-Qaeda in Iraq were on the ropes or that they were nearing defeat. Whatever the state of the group’s leadership, it seems early to write them off.